6 Ways To Improve the Resale Value of Your Home

By doing simple upgrades to your home, you can look to re-sell it at a much higher rate. Here are some simple ways to improve the quality of your home so that its resale value can be through the roof.

  1. Nice Kitchens Add Value

Buyers of all kinds have long focused on the kitchen, but it holds particularly true to the newest wave of first-time homeowners – the millennials. A modern or updated kitchen topped the list of ideal home features in many surveys on millennials, who registered this part of the house as the most important. With more and more people going back to the basics of preparing their own meals, the kitchen deserves to be one of the prime features of any home.

With this in mind, if you plan to sell, don’t rip your kitchen down to the studs. A smaller investment can have serious impact. For as little as $5,000, you should be able to add a new suite of appliances, as well as a new countertop and flooring, giving you a much fresher, more coordinated look. Applying a new coat of paint to the walls or cabinets and updating the hardware can also breathe new life into the space.

For example, you can improve both the quality and aesthetics of your kitchen if you upgrade your appliances and try out stainless steel finishes. Though it has been around for decades, this appliance finish conveys a clean, contemporary design which tells your buyer subconsciously that all your appliances are modernized. For the latest spin on stainless products, look for new versions of black stainless steel from KitchenAid, LG and Samsung, each with a softer, less reflective finish, but the same cachet as the original.

  1. Pay Attention to the Landscape

Tangled trees and unkempt bushes can obscure views, darken interiors, promote mold and block a good look at the house. This, in turn, can be a major turn off for many potential homebuyers.

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People forget about their trees more than almost anything, yet landscaping is one of the top three investments that bring the biggest return. According to a 2007 survey of 2,000 brokers conducted by HomeGain, an online real estate marketing site, an investment of around $400 or $500 dollars in landscaping can bring a return of four times that amount. It could really make a significant difference in the price. It might cost you more in upgrading your home, but landscaping might just be that one thing you need to close that deal on the house.

  1. Make Your Home Energy Efficient

There’s a lot of consideration for potential buyers if the house that they look to buy is already energy-efficient. Lowering your home’s energy costs can save you money for as long as you live there, and it is expected to be a major selling point down the line. People, according to most surveys conducted by home brokers, look for energy-efficiency more than they look for safety.

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Older homeowners who have felt the sting of escalating energy costs tend to be driving the interest. However, there are some early adopters among younger buyers, too, especially in regions of the country with more extreme weather. If they can see that your appliances are tilted on energy saving, it’s a good sign for them. Also, oftentimes, smart buyers ask for previous electricity bills and judge how much they can potentially spend when buying the home. That being said, it’s best if you can start being an energy saver as soon as possible.

Of course, never forget about water heating, which accounts for 16 percent of energy costs in the typical home. Spending $1,800 to $2,400 on a new unit is another way to impress efficiency-minded buyers.

  1. Functionality Over Aesthetic

Stain-prone stone countertops, grime-collecting ornate cabinets, and dust-catching wall-to-wall carpet used to be symbols of luxury, but today’s homebuyers are more likely to equate them with extra work. The younger generation in particular would much rather spend their time entertaining at home than fussing over it.

This means that beyond a home’s cosmetic finishes, it’s important to keep the major mechanical systems in working order. Many first-time buyers may have used up much of their savings on the down payment, so they want to know that the heating system, plumbing and electricity have been recently updated. Central air conditioning is also in demand because it eliminates the need to switch window units in and out.

In addition to including the age of the system, it helps if you can also point to its reliability. For example, Consumer Reports surveys have found American Standard and Trane to be among the least repair-prone manufacturers of gas furnaces.

A new roof can also help prevent fears of water damage, ice dams, pest infestation and other home disasters that can result from an old, shoddy roof. For a typical 2,300-square-foot house, you might be able to put on a new shingle roof for as little as $6,000. You’d also need to make sure that your floor is built well (including the backyard or the parking space) so looking for good asphalt paving services should be on top of your list.

Furthermore, more carpets are being replaced with long-wearing hardwood flooring with a durable factory finish. Engineered wood flooring, which uses a thin veneer of real wood or bamboo over structural plywood, tends not to wear as well as the more solid alternative. It does have the same look but costs less, making it a good choice if you plan to sell soon.

  1. Investing in Smart Technology

High-tech features offer notoriously bad returns on investment because technologies tend to evolve quickly. For example, one of the biggest flops in recent years is the fully wired audiovisual system. That being said, you should be investing on smart technology – those kinds that don’t fall off easily – rather than simply the trending ones.

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Certain smart devices add to home value and interest, including programmable thermostats. It has practically the same benefit with a range of products, such as lights, door locks, and security systems. Those smart features have broad appeal with millennials who grew up on smartphones, so they’re used to being able to control things at their fingertips. Surely, their age group would pay three to five percent more if they can control everything with their mobile phone.

A whole house generator might also be a good investment. Power failures are a reality for a lot of homeowners. As such, stationary generators can usually power the entire property. A professionally installed unit can range from $7,000 to $15,000, according to Porch, a website connecting consumers with home service pros. The Generac 6241, priced at $3,500, excluding installation, is a top pick.

  1. Invest in Good Advertising and Photos

Lastly, to increase the value of your house, your overall advertisement should be crisp. The first step is to look for a real estate agent who can really sell houses. Then, make sure your real estate agent offers great photos that show your home in its best light when it comes time to list. With this, home buyers seeking for a new place can appreciate your home from the pictures online before even making a decision to visit.

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Look for a frugal way to get a good advertisement by hiring a photographer, or researching online on how to take good photos of your house. Time and time again, customers would always be attracted by the first impression, especially when your advertisement photos are really good.

The Best Finance Apps to Keep Track of Your Budget

Keeping track of your finances through you own version of bookkeeping – maybe through a logbook or a handy notebook – was considered the norm when the age of mobile devices began to take over. Nowadays, there are many applications and software that can provide you the most convenient bookkeeping solution possible, and most of them are free!

If you’re looking for the best finance application to keep track of your budget, here’s the cream of the crop:

Pocketguard

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App Description: PocketGuard makes personal finance fun and easy. It categorizes and organizes your expenses, monthly bills and subscriptions into clear, beautiful tabs and graphs, so you will always be on top of your finances.

Available for both Android and iOS, PocketGuard is a one-size-fits-all bank account tracking and budget management app. It can show you how much you’ve got in your accounts, as well as how much you can afford to spend for the day.

Yes, you’ve read that right! The app can help create your budget plan with your bank account. The app connects to your bank and card accounts through an encrypted, read-only connection. This allows users to quickly view the status of your accounts and transactions while remaining secure.

The app automatically sorts your purchases, subscriptions, and bill payments, and factors in your previous spending factors to provide you an estimate as to how much you can safely spend from your accounts without going into the red.

Mint

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App Description: From Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint Bills, and Quicken: The free Mint app helps you spend smarter and save more. Easily pull all your accounts, cards and investments into one place so you can track your spending, create a budget, receive bill reminders, and get customized tips for reducing fees and saving money.

Mint’s mobile apps for iOS and Android takes on the competition by offering a comprehensive look at all your account balances – accounts, budget plans, and even you credit score. In addition, all data is updated in real time as long as you’re connected to the Internet. It automatically categorizes your transactions, alerts you when you’re about to go over your budget, and lets you opt-in to push notifications about bills.

Its unique feature includes the Trends feature, which helps you track your credit cards, cash, spending, income, and net worth over time. Charts and graphs can then show you an infographic point of view about where you’re spending money.

Intuit’s Mint Personal Finance not only helps you track your income and expenses, but also your financial state as a whole. Aside from allowing for in-depth personal budget management and expense logging, the Mint app lets you sync your bank and card details for an up-to-date and secure look at your financial status. You can also view your personal finances offline: the app stores information from a user’s latest download so they can still review their bank accounts, track credit card spending, or see when their bills are due.

Spendee

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App Description: Spendee gives you the power of unique data analysis in an adaptable environment that automatically and thoroughly analyzes your income and expenses, giving you intelligent advice on how to make the most of your money. The app is beautifully designed with a sleek, simple layout and built with a precise user interface that is both enjoyable and comfortable to use. Simply punch in the numbers, and see your money analyzed and expressed as informative and easy-to-read infographics.

Perhaps the most fun way to keep track of your expenditures, Spendee goes for a modern look with all the comfort and ease of infographics as you manage your accounts. Enjoy data synchronization in real time while keeping your data safe and synchronized in all your iOS and Android devices. Expenses are quickly logged into categories, with the option to snap photos of bills and receipts for easy storage.

There is also a “sharing wallets” feature: with each wallet, you have the option to give access to members of your family, friends, business partners and others for common registration and tracking your finances if you want to pay for the premium service of the application. The best thing is, you can track your expenses for any categories and wallet members. This feature can totally be harnessed for the better budget management of the whole family.

Spendee also features a brightly colored and user-friendly UI that comes with great budgeting tracking tools whether you’re a free user or a subscriber. The Feed tab lets you easily scroll through your expenses, while the Overview mode offers useful infographics on your spending over time, as well as a breakdown of what items and categories you’re spending your money on.

Spendee has also added a budget creation tool, making it not only an expense tracker but a legitimate budgeting app.

Qapital

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App Description: Say hello to Qapital – the app that makes it easy to save for the things you really want. We use the ways you’re already spending your money to trigger micro-savings that we automatically put aside for your Goals. That means while you’re busy dreaming and planning, we’ll be doing all the work to make it happen.

Qapital can easily match the best online bookkeeper out there in the app market. Personal finance app Qapital helps you to have the mentality to save through gamification and tiny actions you take every day. It makes saving for goals easy, though it requires you to open a new savings account. If a big time saving is too much of a leap for you, Qapital app can help you save little by little.

You can use Qapital to round up change on debit & credit purchases, and save it towards a Goal. It also helps its users to set a budget and save when they stay under it; there is even an interesting feature that “punishes” users whenever they indulge in guilty pleasures.

Qapital offers to its users FDIC-insured savings – no monthly or annual fee, no minimum deposit, goal-based savings, and automated transfers with guaranteed no hidden fees.

Expensify

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App Description: Can’t stand your expense reports? Look no further! Expensify makes capturing receipts, tracking time or mileage, business travel and creating expense reports quick and easy. Acknowledged by the tech community as the best app for expense reporting, Expensify takes the time, paper, and headaches out of your expense reports! Simply put, Expensify does expense reports that don’t suck!

Expensify gained its popularity by narrowing its target market: while it can be useful for anyone, it focuses on travelers. If you’re a business traveler, then Expensify is easily your best friend when it comes to making easy expense reports. It allows you to manually track expenses, photolog receipts and even import purchase info from your credit card for IRS validated eReceipts.

Its best feature is Smart Scan, which allows users to photograph a receipt, have the information “read” from the image, and automatically generate expense data. The app includes input options for travel mileage, time and rate based expenses, as well as automatic currency conversion.

Expensify can also be in sync with your car or any vehicle that you use through its Mileage Entry feature where you can manually enter the distance, use your phone’s GPS, or take a picture of your odometer. Travelers can find this extremely handy so that they won’t neglect taking care of their finances while still enjoying each and every moment of their wanderlust.

3 Steps to keep track of your finances for your New Home

Owning a new home proves to be one of the most exciting stages of one’s personal life. Not only does it provide a new ambience to a person and his or her family, it can also bring about a new sizzle in their outlook in life.

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The reality is that there are various factors which may contribute to people moving from one place to another. Aspects like being able to have more job opportunities in a different place, family preferences, and security can bring about thoughts of moving or even migrating. Ultimately, going out there and making that step towards a place you can call your own give off the most scintillating off all feelings.

However, along with the thrills of the new comes the reality behind it – how a mortgage reflects on one’s finances. Yes, owning a new home entails financial consequences and most often, it is not the lighter kind. Expenditures like new furniture and equipment, water and electricity bills and mortgage can be daunting when unorganized.

This is why it is important for those who just moved into their new home be reminded that finances should be tracked to avoid any unsurvivable debt.

Depriving one’s self of his or her needs for the sake of cutting some dollars off the bills may not be the best thing to do. Nor does buying all wants and needs only to find oneself running dry and unable to eat for the rest of the day.

With that said, the question now arises, how does one actually keep track of his or her finances after moving in? It is time to think a L.O.T and save a LOT! Here are ways to do just that:

L is for Learn the Value

In this time of earn-it-hard-spend-it-easy, the best way to go against the tide of mindless spending is to learn the value of the things one buys. This equates to spending wisely on the true necessities of life. Financially-stable people are best at knowing the value of their money.

One thing is for sure – being ‘money-smart’ is a requirement for people who want to be truly financially-stable especially after just being burdened by the finances of a new home. Then again, how does one become truly money-smart?

Every financially successful person has set his or her mind to buy only what is needed. Sure, a Poundex 2 Pieces Faux leather Sectional Right Chaise Sofa is as appealing as it could get. Maybe sitting on it does feel like being cuddled by a polar bear, or maybe not. However, at $600,  it may not be the most necessary part of every home.

Practically speaking, a person who knows the value of his or her money would not spend $600 for furniture that can be substituted by a same comfy, cheaper $100-alternative that is made of essentially the same leather material.

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This is not to say that luxuries at home are bad. The point is that for a person aiming to be financially independent, one has to inculcate a sense of awareness as to how one spends his or her money.

It is more enticing to buy furniture for a new home with a credit card on hand, but it is exactly what people should avoid. Credit cards are thought to provide a huge plus in one’s financial self-worth. This is actually a wrong notion because credit cards promote spending, and spending equals lesser money. Successful people always make it a point to eliminate any debt that may accrue interest. Accumulative interest in turn can cause huge headaches financially.

O is for Organize Future Expenses

Since there is no actual way of predicting how much one’s electric or water bill will be every month, it is still important that people gauge the amount they will have to pay for the services they utilized. Organizing funds for future expenses can make a person better prepared for next month’s payables.

There is a list of necessary expenses a new homeowner must take into consideration. For a home to survive the test of time, home maintenance services such as plumbing and electrical repairs may prove to be necessary to have a better home for the family. If unprepared, a person can expect a huge headache with regard to where to find the money needed to afford these important services.

The same is goes to water and electric expenses. Each person living in a new home should have an idea or gauge on how many kilowatts of electricity the household consumes on average, as well as how many cubic meters of water they use in order to prepare the funds required every month. In fact, there is a way to determine which appliance largely affects a home’s energy consumption.

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Organizing funds for future payables at an earlier time can prove vital in many ways simply because it helps a person estimate the amount he or she still has left with to circulate on other needs or wants.

T is for Track Records

A simple way to keep oneself away from spending too much is by showing that a person actually spent too much. Looking at one’s bills is an important aspect in finances. Keeping track of them proves much more vital than it seems.

There is a plethora of ways one can track his or her records. Usually, paper bills, which are sent to home addresses, are recorded in a notebook every month. This is a good way to view the trend of payments, as well as to provide clues on the factors that made the accumulated amount so. However, with the shift of many companies to electronic and paperless billing, plus the combination of companies who still print on paper, many people are finding it hard to track their records.

With the help of technology, keeping track of finances can be done easier. MYOB Accounting Software is one of the most efficient software used to help record and take into account personal finances. Other people use spreadsheets using Microsoft Excel and other tools online to help them keep track of their finances.

Once information for at least a month has been collected, an individual can get a good baseline of information to use to create your personal budget. Creating the budget is a good first step, but the most important thing is to follow the budget.

computer finances

People should make time weekly or monthly to track their spending, and start to see if they are actually keeping to the budget. Using a personal finance program or an online service is probably the easiest way to do this on an ongoing basis. Continuation in tracking where your cash is going is vital. People may be surprised to find out how the frequent small amounts they spend actually add up to big sum.

After tracking the status of a personal budget, one may notice some areas where adjustments become necessary. It is important that he or she does not just increase his or her budget without considering alternatives. While they may have limited choices, if prices or expenses go up, it is just proper to go for better deals before giving in to the extra expenses.